Sunday, November 4, 2007

Not in my neighborhood?

I do like to explore abandoned buildings, and my recent trip to Detroit was my first opportunity to explore an abandoned house. Located in the Highland Park neighborhood, the house looked like a single- or two-family home from the front, but once we got inside, the halls and rooms went on forever. Our guess was that it was a six-family apartment building. When looking at it from the side, there were two structures (built at the same time, exactly the same way) with an attachment. (I know that there's an architectural term for this, sorry!)

With the exception of Detroit and other equally-abandoned cities, it seems that finding abandoned homes is a little more difficult than finding an abandoned school, insane asylum, etc. The economic reality of an individual is both less and more fluid than that of a corporation or municipality. For example, it would be a hardship for a working-class individual or family to leave to a house behind; they sell it (even for a low price, I would think). But they would want those funds and probably that closure. (Of course, they could sell it to a developer who does nothing with the property.) On the other hand, an individual dies and families move away.

There's an abandoned house on my block, and I'd love to know the story behind it. My neighborhood is pretty packed with houses; ours was built in 1906/08 and is 5 feet away from the neighboring house on one side and 2 feet away from the other house. Building is happening in my neighborhood, but due to the long-time residents, is a neighborhood in which most of the residences couldn't afford if they were to start from scratch in their homebuying. (ie: Their mean income couldn't afford to buy the property they own.) It's a nice, but old-style neighborhood.

Our house is at the bottom of a hill, near the main street. We rarely see the abandoned house at the top of the hill, except when somebody drives us home or when we rent a car and drive through the neighborhood looking for a parking spot. But it used to upset me that an abandoned house existed in our neighborhood. What about the value of the houses next to the abandoned place? Abandoned houses are great, but not in my neighborhood.

I've chilled on it a little. Live and let live. If I started researching the history of this house (and its owners), I'd probably look like a snoop. (Nonetheless, I might do so.) I find it intriguing that the owner doesn't sell the house for the land value. Where is the owner? I should've started photographing this house when we moved into the neighborhood three years ago...

Somebody's taking caring of this house a little bit, ie: the anti-littering sign and other small changes that I've seen over the years. Who?

When we first moved into the 'hood, I thought the house was locked tight. It isn't, and there are two easy ways to enter. The house isn't very stable, though, so I nixed walking around inside.

Here's a comparison shot of the house and its next-door neighboor. Of course, the shrubbery is overgrown. The sky is visible through the ceiling and roof; you can see a little of that in this photo. Since parking really is at a premium in our neighborhood, a 20-something couple parked their new candy apple-colored car in the driveway, while we were looking around and taking photos, and walked down the hill, presumably to a restaurant.

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CresceNet said...
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